Jailed DVB reporter faces further charges in court

A jailed Democratic Voice of Burma reporter has appeared in a court hearing inside Insein Prison compounds yesterday where he was facing an additional charge under the Electronic Act.  Sithu Zeya is currently serving eight years in prison for filming the aftermath of 2010 April bombings in Rangoon.

The DVB video reporter was arrested on April 14 last year shortly after he took video footage of the aftermath of grenade attacks that took place at X2O Pavilion near the banks of Kandawgyi Lake in Rangoon.

Footage of Thingyan celebrations in Rangoon, shot by jailed video journalist Sithu Zeya shortly before his arrest in April 2010

His family claims the 21 year old was tortured and denied food and water during a five-day interrogation following his arrest. The torture forced him to reveal that his father, Maung Maung Zeya, who was subsequently arrested, was also a DVB reporter.

Maung Maung Zeya is now serving 13 years’ imprisonment in remote Hsipaw Prison in Shan State.

Sithu Zeya was sentenced to eight years in prison under the unlawful association act and the immigration act in December last year. Yesterday, he appeared in a trial at a special courtroom inside Insein Prison compounds where he faced an additional charge under the Electronic Act, said his mother who tested in the court hearing as his witness.

“He is being charged with the Electronic Act for allegedly distributing materials [via internet] that can damage tranquillity and unity in the government. Apparently he is facing a jail term from seven up to 15 years,” said Sithu Zeya’s mother.

“Right now he is being kept in Insein Prison and I don’t know where they will send him next.”

She criticised the judicial system under the new government for being no different from the previous military government’s judicial system, under which her son was sentenced to a long-term imprisonment based only on his forced confession under police torture, and said he is likely to be sentenced again based on the same confession

“They gave him the sentence based on the confession he gave to the police under torture. They will use the same confession to sentence him this time – [the judicial system] now is no difference from the previous one.”

Reports that emerged early this year said Sithu Zeya was being tortured in Insein Prison, where he is serving his initial term, for failing to abide by prison customs.

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